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Ghost Squad (Wii) artwork

Ghost Squad (Wii) review

"At a glance, Ghost Squad doesn't seem all too different from yesteryear's Virtua Cop 1 & 2, which the game openly borrows from."

At a glance, Ghost Squad doesn't seem all too different from yesteryear's Virtua Cop 1 & 2, which the game openly borrows from: there's a total of three missions to choose from, gameplay revolves around shooting goons that constantly and questionably pop out of tiny hiding spots, a marker wraps around an enemy that's going to fire first, and the voice acting is ridiculous. If it ain't broke, right? I figured that going into my first runthrough of this release, welcoming another Virtua Cop-style romp with updated graphics and a change of characters, with police officers being traded out for a United Nations secret special forces team. But as I made my way through Ghost Squad's three hostage scenarios, a villa, Air Force One, and a jungle hideout, I became uneasy at the play mechanics' apparent shallowness. The first two missions felt very short, linear, and the lack of enemies popping out weren't much of a threat. It wasn't until the last mission in the jungle that the game actually felt fluid, throwing one challenging segment after another.

After all the nice things I heard over the years about Sega's first light-gun port on the Wii, I found this to be a disappointing experience. If it wasn't for one silly reason, too, I would have given up on the game after this lone playthrough. You see, even before I popped the disc into my Wii, I took a quick peek at the back of the box and saw a man in a panda suit holding a gun. Not wanting to regret this later in life, I was determined to keep playing until I unlocked that incredible costume!

With that said, it's funny how a little initiative played a role in me realizing that Ghost Squad was more than a one trick pony. A modified version of the arcade original, the Wii port intentionally starts your first run as bare bones as possible, and with the help of a level-up/reward system, you'll steadily win over more options to fiddle with through repeat plays. If you want to switch out your default machine gun for a fierce shotgun or a handgun with a small clip, then you'll have to aim for high scores to level up faster, by means of skillful shots or successful completion of special segments. That, or because you want to put on out-of-place uniforms, like the World War II or cowboy outfits. Also, by completing one of three gimmicky boss fights (one bullet to the head, seriously?), all featuring a strict time limit, you'll gain a new difficulty level for that stage, and usually a new alternative path to travel through.

From there, the play mechanics transform into something more credible than what you start out with, presenting more enemies on screen that are also quicker on the trigger finger. As the difficulty levels rise, you'll end up relying heavily on memorization, as certain goons will try to hit you the very second they appear. It's quite energetic and fun, and the craziness goes well with the destructive environments; I never tire of blowing away all the plates, glasses, and food crates in the first mission. Thankfully, and with the help of calibration, the Wii's sensors are also on point as you shoot multiple targets on screen and flick the Remote off screen (for reloading), usually in the span of two to three seconds. Though, one complaint I have in this area is the fact that the blast radius/hitbox of shots is insensitive when it comes to avoiding hostages. It's amazing how many civilians I killed on my first couple plays when my cursor was an inch away.

Ghost Squad deserves credit for diversifying the action from the typical jack-in-the-box style of play, too, which is something a ton of titles in the light-gun genre don't like doing. Periodically between gunplay, the game will pause to give you options, those special segments I mentioned earlier, ranging from defusing a bomb by cutting the lines in order, to rescuing a set number of hostages by handcuffing them with the Action button. They seem very simple at first, but again, as the levels pile on, they become much more strict; carefully sniping terrorists in a hut, while wearing thermal goggles, while also avoiding hostages, with only five seconds to spare will test your nerves, and stopping a spinning needle on a small circle with the Action button, to hit a corner for "stealth" play, is going to require a keen eye. Even on higher difficulty levels, they still manage to work if you're careful, but the QTE melee segments are irritatingly harsh. The only way to stand a chance is to know beforehand where the prompts onscreen are going to appear, and even then, you have a 50/50 chance of succeeding.

Now, as fun and exciting as Ghost Squad can get, it has a lot going against it that can easily turn off a broad range of gamers. For one, even with all the unlocked goodies and variation in gameplay, you're still only dealing with a grand total of three missions, meaning you really, really have to like light-gun titles to get into this. And even for light-gun fans, as enjoyable as the game is with its fast and furious gun fights, you can only replay the game so many times until you get worn out on seeing the same things over and over again. What the developers did to extend replay value for the Wii port is commendable and a bit clever, but an exclusive mission or two, preferably unlocked a little later, would've gone a long way to break the repetition that's eventually going to settle in. Well, you get an extra mode that allows up to four players in on the action and some goofy visuals (erm... one option allows you to use whale water guns to splash women), but I wouldn't consider that a fantastic addition, albeit still a good one. As is, Ghost Squad is an entertaining product that stands as one of the Wii's better light-gun titles that just could've used a little more bonus content.

At least it has a panda suit.


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (June 24, 2013)

Even after reviewing all these Double Dragon games, it's crazy to think there's still a ton of games left to review due to varying interpretations.


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